Precious little information came out about Walkergate V.2.0, except this:
It appears the state-related case opened in February 2012, meaning it was active at the sameThat leaves more open possibilities than it rules anything out.
However, several sources said they became aware of the newer probe only in the past month and that much of the recent activity has taken place in Madison.
Sources familiar with the probe told the Journal Sentinel that it was scrutinizing a wide variety of state-related issues, including the recall races. Sources suggested the probe is looking at a current legislative leader and the governor's contest.
"This is activity that occurred since the 2010 election," said a source.
On Tuesday, more news came out on the ongoing Walkergate. That news was either no one knew about it or no one was talking (emphasis mine):
Gov. Scott Walker won't say whether he, his attorneys or any staff members have been contacted in a growing, secret criminal investigation into a variety of state issues.The article went on to say that Mayor Tom Barrett and State Representative Robin Vos claiming they knew nothing about the investigation. However, when attention was turned to State Senator Scott Fitzgerald, the tune changed again (once more, emphasis mine):
Pressed three times on the matter, Walker said Monday that he wouldn't be distracted by questions on the John Doe investigation, which he called a "sidebar issue."
"In terms of a lot of the questions regarding that issue, I really don't have a lot to say," Walker said during a visit to Beechwood Sales and Service in New Berlin. "I'm going to stay focused, as I am today, on helping the people of this state create more jobs, create more opportunity and balance the budget, as we have."
Walker added that he didn't want to get "pulled into" a discussion of the John Doe because of its dicey secrecy rules. A John Doe probe allows prosecutors to gather evidence and compel testimony in secret.
"It doesn't make sense to be involved with that," he said.
Also refusing to answer questions about the secret investigation was Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.While the non-comments from Walker and Fitzgerald might not seem a lot, especially as they are presented in the article, they actually speak volumes.
Fitzgerald, who typically handles reporters’ questions head-on, declined several times on Monday to say whether he knew anything about a John Doe investigation or had appeared before it.
“I can’t comment on it,” said the Juneau Republican.
We learned from the original Walkergate investigation that if this had nothing to do with them, they would be free to talk their fool heads off. The only time a person is not allowed to speak about a John Doe investigation is if they are the subject of the investigation or if they are involved as a witness.
The fact that they are saying they can't comment about it or are concerned about "dicey secrecy rules" would indicate that they could very well be involved in it.
As I pondered on the little we do know about the investigation and consulted with a few wise souls, there are a few areas that come into mind which might prove to be part of the investigation (or at least should be).
One of these would fit perfectly into what Dan Bice wrote. It occurred in Madison after the election and had to do with Walker. In fact, when I originally wrote about it, I dubbed it Walkergate West:
In regards to Walkergate West, I wrote:As I pointed out, this would fit in with the modus operandi that we saw from Team Walker when Walker was still county executive. And even though Walker knew he and his crew were under investigation, Walker is asocial enough to think he wasn't doing anything wrong and so there was no need for him to actually follow the law.
However, Graeme Zielinski, the Communication Director for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said that they have heard from lobbyists who work with both parties that they found it odd that instead of going through normal channels, they were being directed to contact Keith Gilkes, Walker's then Chief of Staff, using his email address from his consultancy group.Scott Wittkopf, using an interview by Dan Bice and some of his own research, was able to flesh this out a little bit:
Zielinski also stated that there is reason to believe, just like what Walker did in Milwaukee County, his top advisors in the Department of Administration and cabinet members were privy to this.
That would go a long way to why he hasn't purged Cullen Werwie or Brett Davis from his administration.
This would also make sense given Walker's propensity to do politicking in office (see the phony David Koch phone call) and all the pay for play action that was going on, with tax giveaways, political appointees like Brian Deschane, sweetheart contracts and other sordid affairs like the attempted mining bill.
The most obvious connection to Walker staffers in Milwaukee County and current Walker staff in Madison is obvious – the possibility that campaigning is being conducted on the taxpayer dime. Recent emails from high level Walker staff regarding the mining bill drafting process may confirm that this type of activity is occurring, and thus confirm Bice’s “unconfirmed rumors.”I have no doubt that what Wittkopf wrote is true. Just as I have no doubt that this is just the very tippy top of the iceberg.
An email from then – Walker Chief of Staff Keith Gilkes pgs 11-12 of the document*) on January 30, 2011 from his Champion Group email to his new government email account references campaign fundraising to a lobbyist for Gogebic Taconite.
The email is follow-up on contact information for Marc Holtzman, a well-known GOP and conservative supporter and politician from Colorado, as well as Larry Wolk. Wolk is head of “Correctional Healthcare Companies,” heavily involved in nationwide privatization of state correctional facilities’ healthcare systems.
The email from Wolk to lobbyist Rogowski, then forwarded to Gilkes, refers to “Scott and Keith” (Walker and Gilkes, respectively), and states:
“Hopefully he will be interested in helping and/or contributing to Scott’s campaign…let me know if you hear anything more from Milwaukee County and anything else we can do to help.”
What is really ironic about this is that the court hearing regarding the tragedy at O'Donnell Park is underway this week. The trial includes the emails that Walker's campaign head, Gilkes, shared with Walker's county staff, including Kelly Rindfleisch, who is also having her appeal heard.
Holy tangled webs, Batman! That alone has got to be playing hell with Walker's ulcers.
The next item of interest would bring in Fitzgerald.
From the transcripts brought up by Kelly Rindfleisch's trial was this wee tiny blurb:
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Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to one of the smoking guns.this would show collusion between Walker's campaign, Walker's county staff, Fitzgerald's campaign and WISGOP, which is most definitely a big no-no.
Judi Rhodes, aka Judi Rhodes-Engels, is someone else we know. She is the Harley Davidson-riding GOP operative that specializes in raising funds for State Senator Scott Fitzgerald. Rhodes sent a spreadsheet named "All Contributions-cfis-xlsm" to Rindfleisch, on what would be normally considered a work day during normal work hours.
This means not only was Walker having county staff running his campaign and doing fundraising on county time, and not only were the same staff coordinating things with the Davis campaign, but also was coordinating with WISGOP staff, under the leadership of State Senator Scott Fitzgerald. How was this arrangement approved and by whom?
Does anyone, honestly believe that Scott Walker, Brett Davis, Scott Fitzgerald and maybe even Reince Priebus, didn't know about any of this nor gave their blessings to it?
Caucus Scandal circa 2011
Sticking with the Fitzgerald, Judith Rhodes Engels and collusion theme, I would turn the gentle reader's attention to some of the discoveries to come from the gerrymandering scandal.
In this scenario, we find that staffers for Fitzgerald and his brother, former State Representative Jeff Fitzgerald and a staffer from Congressman Paul Ryan were sharing emails on their private emails regarding the gerrymandering.
Also included in these emails was Rhodes-Engels, Fitzgerald's fundraiser.
So we have legislative aides doing state business using private emails. Were they trying to avoid open records requests? Add to that, there was at least one political operative involved in state business.
What could possibly go wrong?
Look at the first line of this missive:Oh, and Rhodes-Engels was involved in the first caucus scandal, so she really, really ought to have known better.
To keep all of us in the loop at the staff level, I want to share with you the feedback I received from Congressman Ryan regarding the conversation he had this morning with the Speaker and the Majority Leader.Well, that clarifies that they are doing this as staffers. But it also highlights the fact that they are doing so on private emails and with a political operative, Rhodes-Engels, in their midst.
Keep in mind that Rhodes-Engels has been discussed here before. She was first introduced when she pretended to be just a normal Milwaukee County-residing, Harley-riding woman who supported Scott Walker and went along for his campaign motorcycle ride. Her name also came up in Walkergate in that she shared Scott Fitzgerald's campaign donor database with Kelly Rindfleisch so that Rindfleisch could help raise funds for Walker and Brett Davis, Walker's choice for Lieutenant Governor.
I have also become aware of the fact that she has often been witnessed to be in Scott Fitzgerald's office in the Capitol, which is a distinct no-no.
Now we find her involved with the gerrymandering scheme.
Was she involved in order to glean information to be used in fundraising for the inevitable court fights? Was she there to give insight on the possible political ramifications? Or is she simply a Jill-of-all-trades and used interchangeably between legislative and political business?
While pulling up the information for the above sections, it did remind me of one other well-known incident of obvious collusion....the time that Walker was talking to "David Koch." Specifically, this part of that conversation:
WALKER: The other thing is more long term and that is after this, um, you know, the coming days and weeks and months ahead, particularly in some of these more swing areas, a lot of these guys are gonna need, they don’t necessarily need ads for them but they ‘re going to need a message out reinforcing why this was a good thing to do for the economy a good thing to do for the state so the extent that message is out over and over again, that’s obviously, that’s obviously a good thing.Now, obviously, that was not the real David Koch. Not being a lawyer, I have no idea if this would be a prosecutable offense.
But think about this. While that David Koch was a fake, do you think that Walker has never had a similar conversation with the real one?
Also, let us not forget in addition to the Kochs, there are the groups like the Bradley Foundation (whose chair is Michael Grebe, Walker's campaign chair), the Sam Adams Alliance and all of their front groups like MacIver Institute, Wisconsin Reporter and Media Trackers.
Does anyone seriously believe that there was no cooperation, coercion and collusion between these groups, the campaigns of Walker and the other Republicans who were being recalled?
There are just a few of the top things that might or might no be part of the new Walkergate investigation. With all of the corruption we've seen in this state in the past three years, this is by no means the end of all the possibilities. But it is a place to start.
I have a feeling that the next few weeks and months are going to be interesting.